I been following the controversy with Carl Benjamin, AKA Sargon of Akkad and his sudden permanent ban from Patreon. I’m a little late to this only because I was just made aware of it in the last few days. I found that odd, not that Carl is the greatest guy on the planet, and I’ll be honest in saying I rarely watch any of his videos anymore, but I had never known him to be so out of place as to be banned in any way, by anyone.
I also thought that Patreon is simply a payment processing company that makes money by taking a percentage donates to the creator. Why would they care about what Carl was posting?
Doing a little research, I found 3 videos that I thought were important to attempt to understand what happened and why the ban occurred. I found Carl’s original video here, then there was another one, from a 3rd party, Noel Plum (AKA Jim the Firefighter), here, which added a lot of perspective to this incident for me as I am woefully ignorant concerning these payment companies and how they work. Finally, I watched a 2nd video by Carl and after that I thought I would have to think about all of this for a while before I commented.
Why did Patreon go off channel, to a video that, according to everything I know right now, is not even registered with them? Do creators with registered accounts now need to be extra careful going on others shows because Patreon may be watching? I don’t have an answer for that.
The concept of hate speech is sometimes confusing to me. I see it more as subjective in that, we all may agree that some speech is unacceptable, we may not agree on other speech. A few months ago, in a conversation with someone, I referred to a 3rd party (not present) as a moron. The response I received from the person I was talking woith was somewhat surprising as that person considered any derogatory remarks about that other person, in their mind, was a form of hate speech. We sometimes, as atheists, hear something similar when we criticize religion, notably Islam although I’ve seen Christians, on occasion, do the same.
Whats next for creators? Do they need to go through their productions and sanitize them before publishing, removing any words or statements someone may consider offensive? Maybe so. Of course this ban on Carl has hurt other creators as well. Note in Noel’s video that he’s already lost the majority of his subscribers. I’ve seen others as well mentioning that they too have lost subscribers. In this case, not only is it possible that a reputation has been affected, but certainly the person’s income as well. There aren’t many alternatives either.
In a way, I can also understand Patreons response: A person that is registered through their service is found to have made some remarks, on a venue unassociated with them, but that they are Patron customers, may in fact reflect on the company itself. It may sound silly, but it’s not unknown. Remember a few months ago when Disney severed their relationship with a director because of some tweets he had made, not a few months earlier, but years go? How about recently, the comedian that was going to host the upcoming Oscars show, that lost that job because of some routines he had performed in the past tht were considered homophobic? Both decided they didn’t want their brand damaged by these people. Was this Patreons thought when they banned Sargon?
The question Noel Plum asks in his video is why the sudden ban, without a warning or at worst a temporary suspension? We may never actually know but there may not be any room in their Terms of Service for that. Here’s a recent statement from Patreon that explains a little better, but I think is overall insufficient.
Is this a big deal? Are creators abandoning Patreon in droves? Not that I’ve noticed but then I’m not aware of many that use the service. Those I do know of, haven’t said anything about it. It is a warning by itself though that no matter how big a person thinks they are on the Internet, they are not untouchable. Individually, we can come to a conclusion about the situation with Carl, and there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong one here in my opinion. that’s why the idea of hate speech, to me, is subjective. Some may find what he said reprehensible, while others may not have.
Today, it’s a tightrope we all walk,